Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Straight Up or On The Rocks?

Many people prefer their tequila "straight-up" by the shot, but researchers in Mexico have just added a whole new reason to try it "on the rocks".

From the old-time alchemists to modern day tech wizards, there has long been a thirst for turning "lead into gold" and anything at all into something as precious as a diamond.

The first notable success was at General Electric on December 16th, 1954 when the late
H. Tracy Hall became the first scientist to produce diamond from carbon. His process made synthetic industrial diamond commercially viable in large quantities.

But what about
synthetic gem diamonds? To make a long and quite technical story short, synthetic gem diamonds have been around since the early 1970's.

There are two main methods of making diamonds in a lab - high temperature high pressure (HTHP) and chemical vapor deposition (CVD). In a nutshell, HTHP produces single crystals and CVD produces polycrystalline films.

While each method of synthesis presents challenges in production and use, the good news is that thus far the technology to separate synthetics from their natural diamond counterparts has kept current.

Now, let's cut to the "chaser".

To the best of my knowledge, natural diamonds are a non-renewable resource. Although there are still more diamonds to find in the ground, ironically Mother Earth has given up her business of producing any "new" ones.

So, what do you suppose will happen to comparative diamond values in the future?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Diamond values in times like these...

It should come as no surprise that I’m often asked about the future of diamonds, particularly as an “investment”. Of course, I’ll always believe that diamonds have superlative physical and extensive emotional value.

In economic terms, the markets that are waxing and waning as we speak are staffed by fully-licensed brokers and speculators, who have training and accreditation to buy and sell all sorts of financial vehicles (read: paper assets) depending on a myriad of signals and indicators.

Diamond sellers are typically not qualified or well-versed enough in these matters. Unfortunately, some jewelers still promote diamonds as an investment. In my humble opinion, this is a no-no.

I am the Diamond Wizard, but alas I’m not clairvoyant. Who is? Unlike many know-it-all and I-told-you-so pundits these days, I do not even pretend to portend the future. But, I can tell you what my Mamma told me with great certainty… “There’ll be days like this”.

And, there have been before. In fact, the classic “boom and bust” business cycle is endemic to commodities in general and minerals specifically. Ore is found, a mine is built, full-scale production ensues, the community thrives, the market gets saturated, demand softens, prices fall, the mine loses “efficiency” and then it closes.

Prices firm up over time, a new mine is found… ad infinitum, or at least until the natural resource is completely exhausted. Sound familiar?

It's precisely why DeBeers was formed. Cecil Rhodes was among the first to recognize that the best way to curtail calamity and disaster in supply and demand was to “cartelize”, “monopolize”, or otherwise control the diamond trade through a “single-channel”.

To make a long story short, it has generally been a boon for consumers with diamond prices and value steadily climbing over the years. The most notable exception was the bust of the speculative bubble in “investment diamonds” in the late 1970’s. In this case, I must note that these were bought and sold as commodities on the strength of their paper (read: certificates) alone.

But, all that is solid does not melt into air!

Indeed, diamonds are the most tangible of assets. Their supply is limited by Mother Nature. They offer immediate allure and continual appeal. They do not deteriorate. They don’t need to be fed, clothed or housed. And, their benefits can easily be passed along for future generations to behold.

Common wisdom tells us that the best tends to hold or increase in value the most, much more so than second best or normal or average or less. And, consumer’s demand for branded diamonds has certainly clarified, reinforced, and solidified the perception of what is best in today’s marketplace.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Frosted versus Polished Girdles

The "girdle" is our trade's terminology for the outside edge of a diamond. If you've ever wondered whether a fine diamond should have a frosted or polished girdle, I would ask... how romantic is it to focus on a girdle? Doesn't personality count for anything these days?

Just kidding, but I have a slight aversion to even using the term girdle, especially when applied to something as gorgeous as the world's most perfectly cut diamonds. It seems so... impolite.

Anyway, my short answer is that faceted girdles and matte-finished girdles are both perfectly appropriate when finishing diamonds.

Diamond cutting, especially at it's highest level, is still an art form. The parameters are extremely narrow at the upper echelons of the diamond quality pyramid, but the precise application of techniques is left up to the cutter to decide. This ensures that each stone will ultimately display its optimum beauty.

Some cutters prefer faceted girdles better, some don't. Some consumers prefer faceted girdles better, some don't. But the truth is that some diamond crystals are more striking with faceted girdles and some aren't.

My own preference is a smooth girdle. My reason is very simple, it concerns face-up appearance. Smooth girdles actually make a diamond round - faceted girdles make a diamond look round. No matter how many facets you put on the circumference it is still pixel-ated.

Either way, the girdle itself should not be visible when the diamond is viewed in the face-up position.

There are other considerations as well.

It can be argued that a frosted girdle imparts "life" to an otherwise cold looking high color diamond. If a diamond has any trace of brown in it, then that matte-finished edge may appear "dirty". And, an off-color diamond with a thick frosted girdle will definitely look darker.

Sometimes a girdle simply must be faceted to prevent slight 'bearding" that may remain despite careful rounding. A downside to a faceted girdle is that it creates a continuous "window" around the diamond that looks like a line. Then again, some customers flat-out prefer the "completely finished" look of a faceted girdle.

From a cutters point of view, I am here to tell you that faceting a girdle is a royal pain in the neck. Think about it, anywhere between 64 and 96 extra itty-bitty little tiny facets have to be cut, polished, aligned and symmetrical... all at no extra cost!!!

What would you do?

And, don't even get me started on culets.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Clean Diamonds

No matter what the size, color and clarity of your diamond, and even no matter how well it is cut, it just won't look great if you don't keep it clean.

The reason for this is that the surface of diamonds has an affinity to grease and oil - as in soap, shampoo, body oils and the like. This property actually helps extract diamond from it's ore base in the mining process, but that's another story.

When the surface of the diamond get's dirty it drastically limits its ability to allow light into the stone and to properly reflect light as well. That's not good. So the moral of this story is to keep your diamonds clean!

That doesn't mean you have to spend a part of each day in the jewelry store. I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy who likes to keep things simple, so I'd suggest this recipe for success:

Mix 1 part light detergent – I always liked that bald-headed guy with the earring, Mr. Clean – 1 part ammonia, and 2 parts water. Dip your ring in the solution and brush gently with a tired old toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly with cool clear water. Ta-da.

Do not use abrasives like Comet or Ajax or the Barkeepers Friend. They won't hurt your diamond, which is the hardest substance known to mankind. But they'll wreak havoc on your settings.

Around every six months, I’d suggest you have your ring professionally cleaned at your local jeweler. While you’re there be sure to have the setting checked for any loose diamonds or other normal wear-and-tear. This will keep your diamond safe and secure, ensuring you a lifetime of enjoyment.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How long does it take to cut a diamond?

About 10 years ago our company first posted on our website that it "takes 4 times as long to cut Hearts On Fire diamonds than it does to cut ordinary round brilliants". Ever since then, that phrase has become ubiquitous on websites throughout our industry.

I'm comforted to know that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", but strangely enough the fact is that almost no one knows how long it takes to cut a typical round diamond.

Here's the deal. Although the time varies depending on the individual stone, on average it takes one of our master artisans roughly a full day (8 hours) to finish a one carat Hearts On Fire or Dream diamond by hand - which is approximately 4X as long as it takes to automatically cut most diamonds.

Robotic machines cut most one carat round brilliants in about 2 hours - one hour for the top and one hour for the bottom. A diamond cutter/mechanic typically monitors 16 of these machines during an 8-hour shift. This results in increasing production per worker from 1 to 64 diamonds a day!

The problem is that automatic equipment is - how else can I say this - automatic. Its does things mechanically. Quite literally a robot cannot see, feel, or hear the diamonds it cuts. That's why critical distinctions of proportion, polish, and symmetry aren't possible and the beauty of these diamonds invariably suffers.

PS - An easy way to spot a machine-cut diamond is by it's thick girdle edge. The thickness is necessary so that the machine can easily hold the diamond for the entire cutting operation. It also adds extra weight at the girdle, which is no more desirable for the overall beauty of a diamond than it would be for the proportions, performance and beauty of a human being.

Friday, September 26, 2008

In Memoriam: A Master

In mid-July Leonard Ludel passed away. At 95 years young, he was still my mentor. Leonard was the founder of the American School of Diamond Cutting.

He taught that you must never call yourself a Master Diamond Cutter. This is an honorific bestowed on you by others. Well, I’m here to tell you that Lenny was a Master.

The main reason for his mastery was that Lenny practiced what he preached. Lenny preached that one person can make a big difference and that your actions speak louder than words. He had no fear or use for a status quo that thwarted progress, saying “I have always been a humanist and always will be."

Lenny was a 3rd generation diamond cutter who believed that the art of diamond cutting would die out if limited only to those with family history in the industry. He actively sought to share his arcane knowledge - to bring new life blood and vitality into the mix. For this faux pas he was ostracized by the industry at first, but in the end his contributions proved to be significant.

Founding the American School of Diamond Cutting was just the beginning. Lenny had a genuine soft spot for underdogs; our classroom overflowed with diversity – American’s of all sorts – Native, Japanese, Mexican, Portuguese, Dutch, African, Irish, Catholic, Jew, Protestant, atheist, blonde, brunette, redhead, high-school aged, college grads, pacifists and Vietnam Vets.

In my case, Lenny said he picked me as an apprentice because of my acumen in straight pool – 5th in the Big Ten (1st runner-up in the loser’s bracket). Forget about the academic stuff! Normally considered the hallmark of a misspent youth, my ability to bank a shot cross-side or straight-back, apparently convinced him I had the “hand-eye coordination” and “sense of geometry” to become a decent diamond cutter. I gotta tell you that was one interesting interview.

But only part of his enduring legacy was the teaching of old-fashioned, hands-on, bare-knuckled, nose-to-the-grindstone craftsmanship to outsiders like me. He self-published the first book in America to spill the trade secrets of diamond cutting to the general public, How To Cut A Diamond: A Diamond Cutters Handbook (1985).

Lenny's actions continued to help and inspire others even after his official career ended (
Record Courier). And, to this day many of his students carry his passion forward by pioneering, mastering and teaching new methods of cutting, grading, and selling fine diamonds.

Rest in Peace Lenny, you've earned it. We'll do our best to make the world more copacetic in your absence.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Diamonds as Emotional Icons...

I asked in an earlier post, just what is it about diamonds that's so alluring?

Even if you haven’t figured it out yet, diamonds are one of the most precious and powerful forms of tangible emotional communication. For engagements we all know that nothing says “I love you” and “I want to spend my life with you” quite as boldly as a diamond ring.

We also know that there are plenty of other significant emotional moments in life. Of course, these can also be celebrated with diamonds.

Common wisdom says that a woman marries a man and then seeks to change him. And, that a man marries a woman hoping that she will never change. But, here's the rub. Men don't change, they remain little boys until the bitter end. And, women go through many changes in life, eventually becoming their mother.

Maybe that's too simplistic, or cynical, but I can see the logic. I'm forever being told to just grow up. And, I'm pretty sure that I don't fully understand all the changes that a woman goes through.

That certainly doesn't mean I don't appreciate my wife's trials and tribulations. Or more importantly, want to honor her achievements and successes. Lucky for me, she loves gifts of jewelry in general and diamonds in particular. So personally, I'm never at a loss for finding the appropriate "Recognition Symbol".

For men who seek help in this department there is hope. Increasingly, specific diamond products are being identified with particular milestones in life.

There has long been the aptly named Anniversary Band. Those typically have 5 to 7 diamonds in a row, if the diamonds go all the way around its an Eternity. Next up there is the simple 3-stone band, formerly known as Bostonian (which doesn't necessarily mean much to those outside Beantown), that is now called "Past, Present and Future". That covers a lot of emotional territory.

To signify all the steps that a couple may take together in life there is multiple-diamond jewelry cleverly called Journey. To recognize her personal individuality there is the rather bluntly named Right Hand Ring. To commemorate the birth of a child there is the even more rudely conceived (sic)
Push Present, but there is also the tender and elegant mother and child collection from Hearts On Fire called Enduring.

The really good news is she doesn't even have to wait for engagement time, there are 1st diamond pendants for daughters. There are crosses for Communion. There are earrings for Sweet Sixteen. There are bracelets for graduation. And, there are all kinds of diamond jewelry that work very well for... just because!

Once she's been graced from the depths of your heart, she'll always enjoy the Ultimate Recognition Experience.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bearer of Odd News...

Just got back from summer vacation and reviewed my e-mails to find a wee bit of very Odd News.

It seems a 3.02 carat diamond ring worth $40,000 was found in a parking lot somewhere in Washington, DC and then returned to a local jewelry store whose name appeared stamped inside. The store owner commented, "People are careless". That's quite the understatement!

He also inferred that even if his people inspect the stone in an attempt to identify it, which incidently begs the question of how anyone knows its worth $40K without already having made the proper ID, it would still be like "finding a needle in a haystack" to track down the rightful owner(s). Whatever.

Careless or not, the owner of this ring wasn't properly protected in the first place. These days any diamond can easily be inscribed on its edge with a serial number or other identifier. And, you'd think that a truly customer service oriented retailer would keep detailed records of any item sold for that kind of money.

The best diamond companies and the best jewelers do everything they can to protect the consumer.

For example, serialized Hearts On Fire diamonds each have a unique laser inscription that includes the brand name, the company logo and the number assigned to that individual diamond. This number is recorded on the HOF Diamond Identification Document and the AGS Diamond Quality Document that are both delivered at the time of purchase.

In addition, a Transfer of Ownership is signed which registers the diamond to its rightful owner with both the retail jeweler and the Hearts On Fire Company.

All of this information is extremely useful to insurance companies in the event of a loss. It is also great help to law enforcement authorities. In fact, a ring of thieves was arrested by the FBI after a serial number of a particular Hearts On Fire diamond that had been reported stolen appeared on an online auction.

Don't you think that when you spend your hard earned money on a piece of the rock, you'd expect more than a little peace of mind to come with it?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dream on...

Way back in 1998, our team of cutters set its sights and skills on producing a consistent “go-to” alternative for anyone who might wish to own a top performing diamond other than round.

Our dream was to create a truly aspirational diamond that shared the same exacting standard of perfection and beauty as the very best rounds.

The passionate pursuit of this vision led to a revolution in both design and performance. Not content to simply tweak existing styles of cut which were made to yield extra weight, we focused all our energy on creating the most intensely beautiful fancy shape.

After initial success in perfecting the modern round brilliant, it still took over two years of development and more than 30 working models to achieve perfection within a "square frame". In 2000, we finally introduced a breathtaking new fancy to the market that we call Dream. Fancy that.

It is an uncompromising cut. As I’ve said before, other fancy shapes are mostly made to yield more weight from rough crystals that would otherwise not produce “suitable” round brilliants.

Experiments with new faceting techniques led us to discover much higher levels of light performance than previously associated with fancy cuts. Dream hits the “sweet spot” of diamond beauty every time.

Dream received a US Patent for unique design in 2002. The variations of the square that were described in my previous post rely on step-cut or streched-out brilliant style facets that quite frankly lack sufficient sparkle.

These versions usually have extremely flat tops and open tables. My buddies tell me that the lack of a decent crown is what prevents the ordinary princess from becoming a true Queen aka the height of royalty.

Dream's full crown consists of an innovative arrangement of triangular facets in highly symmetrical series that are specifically designed to produce the highest degree of dynamic contrast brilliance – for superb fire and scintillation.

There are other equally immpressive aspects to this diamond’s design. The main facets alone are a remarkable acheivement. They are challenging to make because they must be precisely positioned by “eye” – literally “floating” without touching the table or the girdle, which are a diamond cutter's most constant anchor points of reference for precise alignment and measurement.

The Dream table is bistro sized and intimate, so that it doesn’t glare back at you like a glass-covered conference table. And, the pavilion facets replicate and mirror the base of the best round brilliants, a style which has proven to deliver optimum brightness.

If you think I’m just boasting, just wait 'til you see the pictures...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Innovations in style...

Diamonds are cut to make them look better. It’s as simple as that. However, like I said in my last post, they haven’t always looked as good as they can today.

The owners of rough diamonds have often demanded the seemingly impossible from diamond cutters. “Make my diamond as pretty as it can be, but don’t “lose” any precious weight!”

That’s kind of like asking Michelangelo to carve the Pieta without losing his marble(s). Know what I mean?

The trick to success was for diamond cutters to facet according to the contours of the original rough crystal. This approach favored maximum weight retention over maximum beauty. That's why the world's museums are full of odd shaped diamonds of yore - roses, domes, flats, lozenges, parallelograms, you name it.

Using better equipment and more focused on beauty, diamonds these days are cut more uniformly. The “traditional” shapes are mostly round, rectangular, triangular and elliptical. These are sub-divided into variations of brilliant and/or step-cut depending on their faceting style.

The brilliant has evolved in style over the past 300 years or so, from the 30 facet Mazarin Cut in the 1600’s up to the 58 facet super Ideal rounds of today, such as Hearts on Fire. In between, there were the cushion-shaped Old Miners of the 18th Century and the round Old Europeans of the 19th Century.

Elliptical shapes such as the oval, the pear and the marquise – named after Louis XV’s mistress Marquise de Pompadour - are also cut in the brilliant style. They are all notable for having stretched-out triangle and kite-shaped facets.

The step-cut looks just as it sounds, like a series of parallel and intersecting stair steps. The classic step cut is the emerald cut - usually rectangular, but in special cases it's square. In the early 1900’s several more steps were added to the square emerald by the famous Asscher family – cutters of the Cullinan Diamond. While extra step cuts can be quite colorful they still don’t sparkle like a round.

In 1970 Basil Watermeyer created the Barion Cut to bring the classic brilliance of the round to the step cut. His innovation was to modify the pavilion (bottom) of the emerald cut to mimic the round brilliant. He published his designs, yet did not patent them. In 1977 Henry Grossbard patented a similar style in New York and called it the Radiant.

The princess cut is a generic square cut from the early 1980's developed to retain the most possible weight from octahedral rough. From this cutter’s perspective, the princess is a throwback to the days of cutting exclusively for weight, not for beauty. It yields approximately 70% weight from the original crystal, compared to around 50% for the best made rounds! It also has noticeably less brightness and colorfulness than most cuts mentioned above.

Searching the web, I recently found a
site with at least a hundred names and styles of new diamond design, but as with the Platonic solids there are really only a few basic shapes to begin with and everything else is pretty much derivative.

Until you start Dreaming…

Friday, May 30, 2008

Traditional values...

Everyone knows that a diamond is forever.
Ever wonder why?

In 1947,
Frances Gerety wrapped up her work late one night, said her prayers and promptly had an epiphany. As a young copywriter for NW Ayer, the advertising agency of DeBeers, she deserves credit for having penned the famous line “a diamond is forever”. Those four words are now regarded as one of the greatest marketing slogans of the 20th century.

With a single stroke of genius Frances set the emotional hook for everyone to both cherish and hold onto their diamonds – simultaneously boosting demand, stifling a secondary market and adding tremendous extra value to these shiny baubles.

It’s not like she had nothing to work with.

No matter how or whether they’re marketed at all, diamonds have intrinsic appeal. They are unmatched in many respects, if not magical. Their very origin is dramatic, their history mysterious and their physical properties superlative. They are elemental and pure. Ever since they were first discovered, diamonds have been awe-inspiring to nobles and the hoi-polloi alike. And, they are perfectly marvelous eye candy.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that diamonds haven’t always looked so good.

Stay tuned. In my next post, I’ll discuss innovations and trends in cutting styles.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Are you conflicted about diamonds?

Your girlfriend and all her friends… and her family… and her coworkers expect you to give her a nice bright, colorful and shiny rock when you finally decide to propose. Tradition says that a diamond works best.

Alas, there are always those who choose to rain on everyone else’s parade. Unless you are oblivious to the media, I’m sure you’ve heard a thing or two recently that makes you ponder a darker side of diamonds.

Diamonds are born deep within our earth. They erupt to the surface through violent volcanic explosions that seem to occur in the starkest wastelands and loneliest geographic locations known to mankind. Even then, tons of earth must be dug up, exposed and sifted before even the tiniest pebbles begin to emerge.

Let’s face it, mining of any minerals is rarely considered to be a pretty business. Historically, mining has been relegated to slaves, convicts, servants, immigrants and other less fortunate souls. Come to think of it, the only really joyful diamond miners that quickly come to my mind are the Seven Dwarfs, but their mine was in Disneyland and they had Snow White back home.

OK, but let’s not delude ourselves with fairy tales. The story of diamond mining is complex. To begin with there are two distinct methods - underground mining and alluvial mining.

Surprisingly, underground diamond mines are among the most technically advanced mines in the world. By global standards, the safety records of the world’s deepest diamond mines, at over a mile beneath the surface, are exceptional. In addition, the miners – who most probably will never see an actual diamond crystal in their entire career underground – are very often among the best paid workers in their communities.

Alluvial mining is another story. This work is mostly done by individual diggers in dirt poor countries simply using a shovel and pan. It is back-breaking work undertaken in harsh climates. But in many places – especially African countries with notoriously depleted tropical soils and bleak agricultural prospects – it is the most accessible if not the only means of earning any cash income.

Given their unique value, the wealth from diamonds can ultimately be used for cross purposes. Particularly in Africa, diamonds have been used alternately to divide and oppress people as well as to aid them in their fights for freedom and attempts to build democracy.

Perhaps the worst case scenarios were the pro-longed civil wars in West Africa during the 1990’s. On the other hand, the best case scenario is modern Botswana, whose diamond bonanza over the past 40 years has led to exemplary economic development which today includes approximately 15% ownership stake in DeBeers itself!

After exposing abuses in apparel-making sweatshops and pesticide-riddled fields throughout the world, human rights advocates have rightfully focused attention on the diamond trade. The response from the diamond industry has been top notch.

The good news is that the diamond producing countries, major diamond manufacturers and the NGO's have all come together to craft the Kimberley Process. This historic agreement promotes and ensures best-practice policies in the global diamond business. It collectively monitors working conditions as well as the flow of diamonds worldwide.

So, diamonds are still the ultimate symbol of love. They are still nature's miracle. They are one of the most common elements of life – carbon – in its rarest, densest and purest crystallized form. Millions of years old, formed under extremely intense heat and pressure, the hardest substance know to man – diamonds are enduring and timeless. Even in raw form they are beautiful to behold, but when they are cut as gems to their best advantage they are spectacular and dynamic works of art.

If you wish to express your love with a diamond, you are definitely on the right track as far as I’m concerned.

Today the best diamonds are cut precisely for beauty, by the most skilled artisans using state-of-the-art techniques. They come from high quality rough crystals, supplied through non-conflict sources. They are independently graded for color, clarity, weight and above all exemplary light performance. They bear inscriptions attesting to their authenticity and provenance. They are sold at only the finest jewelers. They remain the crème-de-la-crème of all gemstones.

Trust me, the symbolism and beauty of a diamond still has the power to warm your girlfriend’s heart.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rare Red Diamond from Arkansas

Interesting video popped up today of a natural red diamond from Arkansas. If you didn't already know it, diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow - one of the rarest is red. You can read more in my post on fancy colors from almost exactly a year ago today.

Even cooler than the color, which if you ask me looks more like a brownish brick red, is the fact that this diamond was found in the US.

Of all places, the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR can actually lay claim to being the world's most rare diamond mine, because it is open to the public and for a modest fee anyone can take away whatever they happen to find. Only in America!

There are just a few ground rules at this park in the bucolic pine woods of southwestern Arkansas, ironically located only about an hour north of the town called Hope and a mere 10 miles over on Rt. 19 to Delight, the birthplace of Glen Campbell.

Rule #1: You can bring your own shovel and pail, but you have to fill any hole you dig the same day. This keeps amateur diggers from going pro by coming come back day after day to dig their own personal glory holes. It also prevents the holes from any serious danger of collapsing. And, did I say you have to shovel by hand, the old-fashioned way?

Rule #2: No mechanical help.

If you can't tell, I love this place. You can get lost in the southern hospitality all by yourself. You can bring the whole family. You can camp overnight. Best of all, you can really dig diamonds. And, yes they've found a few more that are notable and valuable.

The largest was the Uncle Sam (1924) at 40.23 carats in the rough. The most political was perhaps the 4.25 carat Kahn Canary Yellow diamond rough worn by Hillary Clinton at his nibs' presidential inaguaration. The finest no doubt was the Strawn/Wagner rough (1990) that I got to see when it was found weighing in at 3.03 carats. It was eventually cut to finish at 1.09 carat as a true AGS 0/0/0 - graded Ideal cut, D color and flawless.

For a Thorough and Accurate History of Genuine Diamonds in Arkansas, check out Glenn Worthington's excellent book by that title.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Jenna's Gem

Congratulations are in order.

I just saw a picture and a story about the diamond that Jenna Bush received in her engagement ring.

For once, a celebrity diamond isn't just all about its enormous monetary value. It seems tradition still holds value in diamonds, and maybe politics does, too.

Apparently her beau, Henry Hager, was looking for a "classic, conservative" style ring to feature a diamond that used to belong to his great grandmother. It's a highly emotional testament, I'm sure, and a wonderful idea.

The ring became a coordinated effort completed by various merchants and craftsmen in due secrecy and near record time - no doubt hints about a Presidential connection surely expedited the entire process. Of course, I'm the most interested in the diamond itself. Apparently it was an "old European" style that was repolished. I'd love to know why.

The conservative thing to do would've been to preserve the heritage of the original cutting style. Because the diamond was "nearly flawless" - which sounds like a bit of an oxymoron - perhaps it was simply repolished to remove any external blemishes incurred in the last couple of generations. That would be awesome, because old European diamonds are well-known to display a relatively high amount of fire, especially when compared to some of their more lackluster "modern" counterparts.

My guess is that the diamond was recut to modern round brilliant standards - with scientifically derived proportions, polish, and symmetry. Not that I would mind; I've always been a tad, shall we say, progressive. I spent a large chunk of my career remaking old-fashioned cut diamonds, taking them to the next level. And now, I prefer they all look brand spanking new - the latest and the greatest.

If anyone does know the full story of Jenna’s diamond, please let me know. I'd love to know more about the original diamond as well as how it actually turned out.

PS. I can hardly wait to see what kind of working-class diamond Chelsea will get in the future.